According to the dictionary, “figure out” can mean “get the hang of,” which is exactly what happened to me this fall when I enthusiastically pursued the art of making jam with figs. Some of these provocatively-shaped fruit may still hanging on the tree in your area, particularly the green ones. The dark, Mission Figs may be gone, unless you’re in an area that was spared the late summer’s heat wave. Not so for Sonoma. The rising temperatures created a crisis. Either cook your figs NOW or hold your peace – until next year.
One of the delights in jam making, as I discovered this year, is having a proper, copper pan. That’s half the fun. These gorgeous orange metal vessels can be converted into vases for gourds to decorate your fall dining table, once jam making is done. Jams cook better and faster in a shallow, wide, specialized pan. Maybe the figs also “felt better” in a “special situation” and therefore more joyfully cooperated in their transformation. Who knows. All I can say is that my normal peach jam making expanded to organic strawberry with kumquats and finally to fig jam accented with homemade port. Yum. The results were astronomically successful. My garage shelves are now laden with various-size jars “jammed full” of goodness for either my guests, friends or future hostess gifts during the holidays.
Here’s the recipe that paid off this year: 2 lbs. figs, tipped, chopped and mixed with 2 cups sugar and the juice of one lemon. Mix well and put into the jam pan with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a drop of the sugar syrup sets up on a cold plate (about 20-25 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in 2 oz. sweet port. Fill sterilized jars to within 1/4″ of the top, seal and process for 15 minutes in a water bath. Makes 2 half pints.
Enjoy the fall. It’s time to go for this season’s bounty: pumpkins, squash, pomegranates and more!